Verbal hallucinations

  I have just returned from Nice. European Psychiatrists were gathered together for 4 days talking about the issues that most concern us. At the heart of psychiatry is a concern for the individual who is in distress. The distress is subjectively experienced and has to be communicated in words, in language, in the main.…

Late Summer in Sussex

Late August 2009 we returned from Glyndebourne, travelling via Virginia Woolf's home, Monk's House Rodmell Sussex. We had seen a revival of Handel's Giulio Cesare and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. We stopped for picnic lunch at a field not far from Monk's House and could see in the late summer light the River Ouse. Entering…

The New Paganism & Medicine (cat & mouse)

Paganism reduced to its essentials is the worship of idols. It is usually talked of as primitive religion. The concrete idol acts as intermediary between the mere human and the divine. These idols can be anything from naturally occurring items in the physical environment such as trees, rocks, the sun or moon or the items…

Language of health care

I have to say that my interest in words is elemental. I study words, enjoy them, and gaze at them as one would a sculpture. Indeed for me, a word is a sculpture. Imagine the word ‘obfuscate’, the ‘fus’ in it has all the attraction for me, of carrion for ravens, it is a basic…

Flashes of colour

Hibiscus is the motif of mood disorders. There are several variants. Rude red, white streaked with pink, light and dark purple, orange. Then bushes and hedges. Even trees. When I was a boy, our front garden had a red hibiscus hedge. The leaves had that glossy, luscious green colour that in the evening darkened into…

Bird of Paradise Lily

The fusion of the images of a bird and a lily is an example of how glorious language is, in depicting the world we live in. But, it is not the extraordinary and awesome power of language in this sense that I am after. Neither the mystery of metaphor nor how it is the basis…

Humean self

In A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume (1711-1776) said ‘When I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade…I never catch myself at anytime without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception. When my perceptions are…

Travelling and the Other

My theme is travel. Travel, travelling, making a journey is often a metaphor for the journey of life. The great narratives, Homer’s Odyssey & Virgil’s Aeneid are both about journeys. In the Odyssey, Ulysses returns to Ithaca after the Trojan War & it takes 30 years to do so. His trials and his successes are…

Funes the Memorious

In ‘Funes the Memorious’ Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) wrote about Ireneo Funes whose memory was prodigious. Funes had been 'chronometrical', (that is he was able to know the exact time without the aid of a clock) before an accident  in which he was thrown by a half-tamed horse and paralysed. After the accident he became…

Karl Jaspers

 It is the centenary of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology (Allgemeine Psychopathologie)this year.  Jaspers (1883-1969) was only 30 years old when this influential text was published. Yet, the book has endured and is still in publication.  So, what is it about this book, a textbook of descriptive psychopathology that continues to make it relevant to contemporary…